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Do Ferrets Need a Friend? (Is a Human Companion Enough?)

Ferret lying down

Ferrets can make wonderful pets for the right owner. They are affectionate, rambunctious, and certainly mischievous little animals that can prove to be very entertaining and can bring loads of enjoyment to your family. But perhaps you’ve been wondering if ferrets would do better if you provided another friend, rather than just having you to play with.

While ferrets will be fine with just human companionship, this means you will be required to spend a lot of time with them. Otherwise, it’s generally recommended that you should have ferrets in pairs, at the very least.

If you would like to learn more, we’ll go over the pros and cons of bringing a friend for your ferret home as well as what kind of animal will make the best companion.

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A Little Bit About Ferrets

ferret grass
Image Credit: katya-guseva0, Pixabay

Ferrets have been kept as pets and domesticated for at least 2,000 years! This is rather surprising when you consider their scientific name, Mustela putorius furo, which roughly translates to “stinky weasel thief.” It’s surprising, perhaps, but it’s the ferret’s personality that makes all the difference and shines through.

The average lifespan of the pet ferret is 5 to 10 years, depending on where you find yours. Ferrets that come from breeders tend to live longer than those purchased in pet stores, so that’s something to think about when you’re looking for a new ferret.

If you are considering bringing a new ferret into your household, you also need to double-check the laws at your location. This is partly because ferrets are considered pests in some areas. They are also categorized as exotic pets since they don’t originate in many of the countries that commonly have them as pets.

The District of Columbia, Hawaii, and California, as well as New York City, all have bans on ferrets as pets, as do parts of Australia (Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia) and New Zealand.

Advantages of Another Ferret Friend

Ferrets are very social creatures. Did you know that when you have a group of ferrets, they are called a business of ferrets? They love lots of attention and someone to play with, and what’s better than another ferret buddy? They have a constant playmate that will be ready to play anytime – even in the middle of the night! And let’s not forget the snuggle factor. Having another ferret around gives them someone to cuddle with when they sleep, and it doesn’t get much cuter than that!

It’s best if you keep ferrets as a pair or a small group, and as long as they are all neutered and spayed, both females and males can live together.

And overall, taking care of an extra two or three ferrets isn’t that much more challenging than just looking after one.

Many ferret owners find that having multiple ferrets gives them constant companionship, so you don’t have to worry about a lonely single ferret when you have to work outside of the home every day.

Disadvantages of Another Ferret Friend

The most significant disadvantage of providing a companion for your ferret is that they usually develop a strong bond, but when one dies, the ferret left behind can become extremely depressed.

When this happens, it’s recommended to allow your ferret to spend some time with the deceased ferret so it can go through the grieving process. You should also spend as much time as possible with your remaining ferret as she might stop eating and will become lethargic.

Another con is that the ferret will form a much stronger bond with another ferret, and you might find that they’ll want to spend less time playing with you.

And all ferrets have individual personalities. Not every ferret will appreciate another ferret showing up in their lives. And if you already have a small group, they might reject a new ferret.

And, of course, there will be an increase in vet bills as well as the need to clean the litter much more frequently.

ferret closeup
Image Credit: Pipsimv, pixabay

What About Other Pets?

We’ve established that ferrets generally do quite well with other ferrets. But what if you have other pets, or you’re thinking of bringing a different species into your home?

Ferrets typically get along just fine with cats and dogs, but they should always be under constant supervision. The main concern would be with the cat or dog and how they will view the ferret. Many breeds of dogs, particularly terriers, were bred to dig out small prey and would therefore look at your ferret as fair game.

On the other hand, your ferret should never interact with rodents or rabbits as the ferret’s instincts might kick in as they are natural prey for ferrets. If you already have both a ferret and a hamster, for example, just be sure to always keep them separate.

A Few Final Thoughts

The long and short of it is that it’s highly recommended for your ferret to have at least one other ferret friend. The choice is yours, of course, and should be based on your own lifestyle and commitment to your pet.

If you spend most of your time at home and are able to play with your ferret a lot, your ferret might be just fine. They can even entertain themselves quite a bit, provided you have given them plenty of toys and frequently let them out of their cage. Some owners never cage their ferrets, so they have constant access to the house.

But at the end of the day, you’ll have to judge for yourself how lonely your ferret is. Or do you already have a strong enough bond with her and spend enough time with her that she really only needs you.divider-multipet

Conclusion

Ferrets are social, but there are many solitary ferrets out there that are super happy and well-adjusted. But there’s no real harm in bringing another ferret into your home as the majority of ferrets will absolutely love the company. And you’ll get such joy watching them play and wrestle and sleep together.

You know how much time commitment you have for your ferret, so the final choice is yours. While losing a ferret friend can be devastating for the other ferret, there are ways of helping her cope, so don’t let that possibility be the reason you don’t get another ferret. Bringing them together will make your ferret happier, which of course, will make you happier.


Featured Image Credit: GuilleNeT, Pixabay

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